February 16, 2005

Little James' Basket Press Vin de Table de France

(Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports, Washington, DC; about $12)

French bistros sometimes sport grand wine lists, but often most people are drinking whatever comes by the carafe. It might well be something like Little James’ Basket Press. It’s a “vin de table,” the lowest title possible for a French wine, signifying that it didn’t live up to the standards of a more respectable designation. But designations aren’t everything: some vins de table are great wines just made outside a region’s tight rules, like this one. It’s made by Louis Barruol of Château de St-Cosme, a producer of powerful reds from Gigondas in the Rhône Valley. His Little James’ wine (named for his son), doesn’t pack the same power, but what it lacks in muscle it makes up for in mouthfuls of sweet, soft cherry flavor, the sort that’s as comfortable with a croque monsieur as gigot d’agneau.

This recommendation first appeared in the Denver Post.

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